Doorstop - Bundaberg 4/7/18

04 July 2018


SUBJECTS: Visit to Bundaberg; Labor’s bigger, better, fairer income tax cuts; Turnbull Government’s penalty rate cuts; GST distribution; Paris Agreement and climate change; Labor’s Australian Investment Guarantee.
ZAC BEERS, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR FLYNN: It’s great to be here outside the Port of Bundaberg with Jim Chalmers, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Finance and Chris Bowen, Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, along with Senator Anthony Chisholm, having a look at the port facilities here and having some good conversations about opportunities for the future of this region. We know that the economy of Bundaberg is reliant on a number of industries and we want to see more opportunities for the people in this region. Today we have had a great opportunity to have a look at the port facilities and have some discussions about what the future looks like for this part of the world and when you go further west to the North Burnett, opportunities that might also exist for the future of that region.
It’s great to be here today, I might hand to Chris and we will move forward.
CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Thanks very much Zac, it’s terrific to be back here with Zac, today in Bundaberg, as part of a broader visit to the Bundaberg Wide Bay area. We just had a terrific briefing on the plans for the Port, plans for the expansion, plans to create jobs. It is very important that the Federal Government is interested in how regional Queensland operates. It is very important the Federal Treasurer and Federal Finance Minister understand the Queensland economy and understand the different parts of the Queensland economy. Jim Chalmers and I have prioritised visits to important places like Bundaberg and will continue to do so. It’s terrific to do so with the terrific candidate in Zac Beers.
Now here in Hinkler for example, 49,000 taxpayers will be better off under Labor’s bigger, better and fairer tax plan. In the seat of Flynn, 58,000 taxpayers better off under Labor’s personal income tax plan. Now that is very important when it comes to this economy. Not only are those individuals better off, but more money in their pockets sooner, means they will be able to spend that money in these economies, in these towns, create jobs.
Now Labor’s plans be it income tax or corporate tax are focused on areas just like this. The Turnbull Government has a different set of priorities. Because Labor has listened and worked and developed policies, we have the policies which are better designed for places like Bundaberg, Gladstone, Wide Bay and the broader Bundaberg area.
Just on the weekend, 10,000 workers in Bundaberg received a penalty rates cut. That’s exactly the opposite of what this area needs. A penalty rate cut means less money to spend, less money in their pocket to drive the economy. We will continue to come to places like Bundaberg and Gladstone, right up and down the Queensland coast talking about our alternative plans. We have the better plans with the better candidates and we have the better processes for listening to people right up and down the Queensland coast. It’s always great to be back on the road with Zac Beers and with Jim and with Anthony. We have done it many times and we will continue to do it right up until the election, but more importantly than that, after the election, making sure we’re in touch with the views and needs of Queenslanders.
We’ll just go to Jim and then take your questions.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Thanks very much for that Chris. Thanks to our friends at the Bundy Port here for the opportunity to check out some of the exciting plans they have here. It’s a pleasure to be here with Chris Bowen, Senator Chisholm and also, Zac Beers.
What this part of the world needs is not more MPs who just go to Canberra and warm seats. We need MPs who go to Canberra and kick down doors to ensure that this part of the world gets its fair share and that’s what they will get from Zac Beers who is a close friend of ours, who will be, really, a remarkable MP from this area if and when he is elected at the next opportunity. What we know in the Labor Party is that you can’t grow the national economy without growing local economies like this one. What we need is investment here, investment in TAFE, investment in services, in infrastructure, and we need to make sure that we target our company tax cuts, so that areas like the Wide Bay and Bundy benefit the most.  And Malcolm Turnbull's priority is not tax cuts for businesses in this part of the world. 
Malcolm Turnbull's tax cuts will see the lion's share of the benefit go to foreign multinationals and the big four banks.  And that's the difference between Labor's economic policy and Malcolm Turnbull's economic policy.  He wants to see billions of dollars lining the pockets and boosting the bottom lines of foreign multinationals and the big four banks based in Sydney and Melbourne.  We want to see genuine investment in communities like here in Bundaberg and right throughout regional Queensland because we do understand that to grow the national economy you need to grow the economy in regional Queensland as well. 
Now Budgets are about priorities.  And Malcolm Turnbull's priorities are always the big end of town.  That's why his income tax cuts flow overwhelmingly to the wealthiest Australians and why his company tax cuts flow overwhelmingly to those foreign multinationals and the big four banks.  Now we've seen in this area $3 million cut from the Bundaberg Hospital and $7 million cut from the Wide Bay Health Service.  And what that means is Malcolm Turnbull says to the people of Bundaberg: "Look I can't find $3 million for your hospital, but I can find $17 billion to give to the big four banks based in Sydney and Melbourne.  I can't find $7 million for the Wide Bay Health Service, but I can find $85 billion in total for company tax cuts which will overwhelmingly flow overseas or to the southern capitals." 
We've got a different set of priorities.  We will be here frequently between now and the election, talking to local people about our different priorities and how we will grow this local economy as a key part of growing the national economy in an inclusive and sustainable way. 
I'll just throw to Senator Anthony Chisholm and then over to your questions.
SENATOR ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Yeah thanks Jim, and what you see from Federal Labor is a real contrast.  We've got the Shadow Treasurer, the Shadow Finance Minister here in Bundaberg, we were in Hervey Bay yesterday, where you never see Scott Morrison outside of Sydney.  He thinks that the national economy is going well if Sydney is going well.  Whereas Federal Labor have a different view on that.  We understand that for the Australian economy to be functioning well, places like Bundaberg are getting their fair share.  So it's fantastic to see the commitment from Chris and Jim to spending as much time as they can in regional Queensland.  But there's also a contrast when it comes to the candidates.  I mean you look at the Federal Members for this area, in Ken O'Dowd and Keith Pitt.  They just come to Canberra and do what Malcolm Turnbull wants.  Whereas what Labor are putting forward, with Zac Beers, and when we get a candidate for Hinkler, is people who will stand up for this area.  So the contrast when it comes to the economy, the contrast when it comes to those candidates on the ground, could not be more stark, where you've got a Federal Labor team that are committed to delivering for this area, and it's fantastic to see senior shadows that are prepared to come and listen to the local community.  Thanks for your time.
BOWEN: Okay folks, over to you.
JOURNALIST: So you were talking about investment for Bundaberg, can you expand on that a little bit more?
BOWEN: Well we've received a briefing today from the Port of Bundaberg and Port of Gladstone Authority about the plans for the marine industry, about hotels and tourism, about expanding the capacity, and of course that will require some Federal investment.  Now we've heard those plans today, we'll be receiving further briefings.  We would encourage the Federal Government to support those plans.  And of course, if it's not, if they're not supported, then by the time we come to office, then of course we would be looking sympathetically on those plans.  But of course, today we're not here to make policy announcements, today we're here to listen, to get the updates, to hear from the people on the ground about what’s important for the Bundaberg economy. We have been doing that. Yesterday we had some great briefings on the Harvey Bay economy in Cairns and as Jim and I travelled around, we hear these plans and we take them away, we work on them, we consult, we talk to our fellow shadow ministers who are relevant to the portfolio. And of course, by the time of the next election, if they haven’t been dealt with, we have the opportunity to put forward our alternative. Now, we’ve done that in the past, with Zac, with plans for the Flynn economy. Whether it be, facilities in Emerald, where now it’s good to see those plans which I announced before the last election in Emerald have now become a reality despite the fact that we didn’t win the election. We managed to set the agenda there, that’s great. And of course, we can continue to do that right across regional Queensland.
JOURNALIST: So the question out of Canberra, if you wouldn’t mind looking here still, the Prime Minister says, “No one will be worse off under changes to the GST carve up.” Do you accept that statement?
BOWEN: Well, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have played an appalling game here. They’ve been sitting on this Productivity Commission report for weeks. They promised that it will be released in June. I have an update for the Prime Minister, today is the 4th of July, now that’s not June. Now, I understand State Treasurers will be receiving a briefing today and hopefully, the report will be released tomorrow. It is the Labor Party that has ensured that no state or territory is worse off. Because we have recognised the legitimate needs of Western Australians, the legitimate grievances of Western Australia. And the virtue of our policy is that we could say the same thing in Perth as we do in Brisbane or Bundaberg because we have a consistent policy. That is Western Australians have a legitimate concern, we have said we would top up Western Australia’s GST payments with payments from the Commonwealth. Now, if Mr Turnbull is fair dinkum and says that he has this magic formula, to make sure no state or territory is worse off then share it with the Australian people. They’ve been sitting on this report for six weeks with no excuses. It’s now July, get on with the job, get the report out and let the Australian people see it.
JOURNALIST: When did Labor request it’s advice on company tax from the Parliamentary Budget Office that led to the reversal of your policy last week? Was it after Bill Shorten made the announcement on Tuesday?
BOWEN: No, we’ve had consistent requests into the Parliamentary Budget Office, with whom we work very, very closely, they’re independent, statutory independent body. They cost all our policies and they are policies regularly need updated costings, in response to changing economic circumstances. We had a budget update, just recently. And it was very good that the cost of expanding that tax relief for businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million had come down. But of course, we are in constant contact with the Parliamentary Budget Office. We’ve had rolling interaction with them over that issue since the budget.
JOURNALIST: I’ve got a few questions from our Canberra team as well. Tony Abbott, has given another speech overnight [inaudible]?
BOWEN: Well, on a personal level, frankly, it is quite sad to see Tony Abbott behaving in this way. But it really goes to the fundamental divisions in the heart of the Turnbull government. I mean, it’s not just about Tony Abbott. I mean right across the Turnbull government, you see people who agree with Tony Abbott on these things. You see this chaos and dysfunction at the heart of the Turnbull government when it comes to the important matter of energy policy. I mean, here in Queensland but right across the economy there’s few more important issues for our economy than getting the policy settings right when it comes to climate change and energy investment.
We’ve got to have consistent settings when it comes to policy for energy otherwise the investment just won’t come. Now we’ve seen missed opportunities, we’ve seen Josh Frydenberg want to institute the recommendations of the Chief Scientist, which the Labor Party gave bipartisan support for, even though it wasn’t our policy, because we recognise how important it is. The trouble was, the Labor Party gave support to the Minister, the Liberal Party didn’t. So riven with division was the Liberal Party, they couldn’t even accept the recommendations that the report from the Chief Scientist they had commissioned. They had commissioned. So the Labor Party is at one that we need policies which deal with climate change. Let’s get the investment going. The Liberal Party is just all at sea. And while ever Tony Abbott is making these reflections and representing a wide view – a widely held view within the Liberal Caucus –Malcolm Turnbull would find very difficult to get the policies right for Australia’s future.
JOURNALIST: How damaging would it be if Australia abandoned the Paris Targets?
BOWEN: Well I mean it is unthinkable. It’s unthinkable. This is an agreement that Australia signed up to under Prime Minister Abbott. I mean, now that is an important point to make. But what is the key about the Paris Agreement is that you need to sign up to it. And then you need to have the policies domestically behind it to make it a reality. Now Tony Abbott signed up to the Paris Accord. Now he says it’s all too hard. And frankly as I said at the outset, it’s rather sad to see Tony Abbott behaving like this but it’s really a matter for the Liberal Party.
JOURNALIST: [inaudible] What do you think about the decision to name a Suncorp Stadium stand after Terry Mackenroth?
BOWEN: As a humble Sydneysider, I wouldn’t dare comment. I’m going to hand over to my friend, Jim Chalmers, who is much more expert on these matters.
CHALMERS: Thanks Chris. Lang Park is the best rugby league stadium in the world. And I think every Queensland kid can remember the first time that they were there and they heard the noise swirling through the cauldron. And it’s really a monument to the contribution that Terry Mackenroth made as Sports Minister and as Treasurer to our state. And we miss him terribly, we miss Terry Mackenroth terribly and it’s right and proper that we look for a way to recognise and acknowledge the towering contribution that Terry made to our great state – the greatest state in the Commonwealth.
BOWEN: Steady on.
CHALMERS: As we relate to the naming of stands at Lang Park, at Suncorp Stadium: there is nothing stopping other stands in Lang Park being named after some of the other greats. I would personally love to see part of the stadium named after the King, there’s no reason why we can’t have a Wally Lewis stand at Lang Park and I would encourage the decision makers to consider naming one of those stadiums after the King. There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a stand named after Artie Beetson and the contribution he made not just to footy but to our indigenous community. There are kids in my electorate in Logan City that know all about Artie who is still, after his passing, a great role model and mentor for a lot of kids right round Queensland. So I think that the state LNP have got the wrong end of the stick. There is nothing to prevent us recognising Terry Mackenroth and his contribution at the same time we recognise the King and Artie Beetson and some of the other greats have made Lang Park not just a great piece of physical infrastructure, the greatest footy stadium in the world, but also made it something – a place where we’ve seen some remarkable things.
Maybe not this year and in this series, but we’re looking forward to Game III. But really it’s an amazing place, and in lots of ways it’s the spiritual home for Queenslanders and we can recognise people who’ve made a contribution to that without excluding Terry from the recognition he needs and deserves. Anthony Chisolm might just add to that.
CHISOLM: I might just add to that. The first time I went to Lang Park, I actually sat in the Ron McAuliffe stand. And Ron was a former Labor Senator for Queensland. So it’s not the first time a stand at Lang Park has been named after a politician. But the other part with Terry Mackenroth that isn’t being acknowledged is he was a long time board member of East Rugby League and he was also a long time board member with the Queensland Rugby League. So he made a significant contribution to rugby league as a politician but he has also done it as a private citizen. So I think it absolutely should be recognised but it should also be that there are other stadium stands there that should be named after other prominent rugby league players and that would entirely be appropriate.
JOURNALIST: What about Labor’s stance on the cashless card?
BOWEN: Again, I will get Jim to comment on that.
CHALMERS: So Labor supported the initial trials in East Kimberley and Ceduna for the cashless welfare card because the community genuinely asked for it. It was consulted and it wanted to trial the cashless welfare card. The difference between those communities and this community is that views are split here in Bundaberg and more broadly in Wide Bay about whether the community wants it. Our view in the Labor Party is if the community isn’t as one in requesting and wanting the cashless welfare card then it shouldn’t be imposed on a community, it should come from the community rather than imposed on the community so we don’t support that trial happening here in this part of Australia.
JOURNALIST: The community has been split on a lot of issues in the past and we still see changes. There is no leeway there?
CHALMERS: Well no, that’s our position and we have come to that position after a lot of consideration and a lot of consultation. I know Zac himself has been out and about in the community hearing people’s views about the cashless welfare card. Those initial trials elsewhere in Australia came from the community so they are very different I think, it was nowhere near a unanimous view here in Bundaberg that it is wanted or needed and so Labor, we are the party of the community, we listen to the community, we consult widely and there is no unanimous view and so there is no support from Labor for it to be rolled out here.
JOURNALIST: What about a candidate for Hinkler? A Labor candidate for Hinkler?
CHISHOLM: So from a Federal Labor point of view our priority was obviously to get Zac Beers endorsed in Flynn because he did so such an outstanding job last time so we are really pleased that Zac is now on the way. The nomination process has opened for Hinkler and we would be hopeful that we have a candidate on the ground ready to take the fight up to Keith Pitt in coming weeks.
BOWEN: Any other issues guys?
JOURNALIST: Yeah I’ve got one more question from Canberra sorry guys. Yesterday Bill. Shorten touted your Australian Investment Guarantee as being targeted at small businesses, saying you’re not rewarding multinationals and big banks. (INAUDIBLE). Are you out of step with the leader?
BOWEN: No, not at all. We are making the same point, the Government wants to give away $85 billion in corporate tax cuts on the hope and the prayer that multinationals will invest it in Australia, 60 per cent of the benefit will flow offshore in the Government’s scheme. Our scheme is designed to encourage investment by making it conditional on investment, conditional on investment unlike the Government’s scheme. So Bill and I are saying that our policy applies to only those businesses who are willing to invest in Australia and that is what policy should do.
The Government says ‘It’s going to be great, we are going to give this tax cut and businesses just might invest it’. We say that is not good enough, our policy is conditional on investment for every investment more than $20,000 that any business makes in Australia . That’s what we want to see, we want to see more investment, we need more investment. Our policy is well designed to encourage that investment, the Liberal Party’s is not.
Okay, thanks for coming everybody.